There are a few different ways that I know that winter is coming. 1) My wife asks me to rake the leaves a lot. 2) My kids start compiling their Christmas lists, and 3) Deschutes releases Jubelale, their “festive, winter ale.” Do you want to guess which one of those three things I look forward to the most?
Winter warmers are a fairly common style these days, with just about every brewery out there making a version that helps their constituents get through the lean, cold months surrounding the holidays. The tendency with these darker, more rich beers is to go off the deep end with malt and “holiday spices,” but I have mad respect for Jubelale because of the subtlety that Deschutes shows with this beer.
The beer pours super dark with a rose ring around the edges. Swirl it around in the glass and you get some nice, sticky lacing from the head. There’s something smoky in the aroma, and then something really odd that I can’t quite place. This is gonna sound weird, but it comes off as really “meaty,” like beef jerky. Don’t get turned off, the meat disappears as soon as you start drinking Jubelale.
Instead of beef jerky, the beer delivers notes of dark chocolate and coffee with a mouthfeel that’s both rich and chalky, but in a really pleasant way. There’s a decent amount of bitterness, and a bit of tingling spice on your tongue as the sip dissipates. Let the beer hang out in your mouth a while, and you’ll pick up some sweet and tart fruit, predominantly cherry. With that being said, there’s nothing terribly sweet about Jubelale, and nothing terribly gimmicky either—no nutmeg, no allspice, no cinnamon sticks or reindeer tears. Don’t get me wrong, I like a beer that tastes like candy canes boiled in Rudolph’s tears, but can you have more than one of those? Not if you’re looking to avoid diabetes. Jubelale is a winter warmer that’s so balanced, so restrained, it could have a shelf life well beyond the winter seasonal. Yes, I’m asking Deschutes to make this beer year round. Maybe we could start a grassroots social media campaign. Because I can see myself drinking this beer all night. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow…
Sadly, a year-round Jubelale is only a pipe dream. This beer hits the shelves in October, and it’s only available through December.
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
City: Bend, Oregon
Style: Winter ale
Availability: Limited, 12 ounce bottles